A composite squadron from 9 Regiment RLC deployed on Ex SHAMAL STORM 16 in February 2016 providing logistic support to the newly formed VANGUARD Enabling Group (VE Gp).
As part of a 1,465 strong military force, 161 soldiers from the Regiment deployed to Jordan on an exercise to test theatre entry capability. The Squadron has been responsible for the inload of Vehicles and Main Equipments (VaME) to the Joint Support Area (JSA), sustainment of the deployed force, and finally redeployment back to the homebase.
Hot off the back of Ex IRON VIPER 15, the Squadron was tasked to ensure all VaME were ready to move to the port at Marchwood before being loaded onto two ships and beginning their voyage across three seas. With the two ships already making their way across the globe, a 15 strong pre-advance party was deployed at the end of January, ready to receive the incoming VaME at the Sea Port of Disembarkation (SPOD) in Aqaba. Operating out of Camp TITAN, a permanent US camp, they were immediately put into action, making their way to the VE Gp HQ location – approximately 45 minutes north of the SPOD. Starting out as just an open expanse of desert, the camp known as Al’Quweira 1 (AQ1) soon started taking shape alongside two others, Camp Jebal Batra (JB) and Al’Quweira 2 (AQ2); in total it took just one month until all were fully established. The team, made up of Petroleum Operators, Suppliers and Drivers worked hand-in-hand with the Royal Engineers to create a vehicle holding area, temporary refueling facility and ammunition storage site at AQ1.
With an influx of manpower in February, the construction of the Bulk Fuel Installation (BFI) was able to take place. Concurrently, General Transport (GT) Troop commenced with the movement of VaME from the SPOD’s Convoy Marshaling Area (CMA) to AQ1, AQ2 and JB; countless convoys took place, travelling nearly 3000km, depositing over 300 VaME to the deployed Force; this included Mastiffs, Quadbikes, ISOs, Panthers and Pinzguars to name but a few. In addition, The Ammunition Storage Point (ASP) was also established with the earthwork and defence stores being completed by the Royal Engineers. The Ammunition Troop ran a live account with multiple natures supporting 23 exercising dependencies – a unique experience for the soldiers.
The main body arrived in March and every training opportunity that Jordan had to offer was exploited; from PLM ‘actions on’, briefing skills, General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG), Glock Pistol and SA80 Rifle live field firing range packages and MATT+ training, no stone was left unturned. An incredible opportunity to take 24 soldiers on a 4 day, Live Fire Tactical Training (LFTT) package run by 1 Duke of Lancashire Regiment was seized, with 9 Regiment personnel conducting everything from Section up to Company level attacks. This built upon a three day Operating In Built Up Areas (OIBUA) package run jointly with 5 REME Battalion. In addition a further 14 junior soldiers were put through their paces in potential CLM Cadres. Training was not just kept to basic soldiering skills and there was also a large focus on trade training. Suppliers completed large bespoke workbooks, created to gain competencies across all areas of the trade spectrum, whilst Drivers pushed through with Class 3 to Class 2 upgrades and completed 28 vehicle conversion courses. A last minute opportunity also arose for a team of eight to enter the arduous Dead to Red relay race, a course of 242 Km, which they completed in a laudable 17 hours 40 minutes.
The Squadron was tasked with sustaining the deployed force out of Camp AQ1. Providing an essential lift capability. GT Troop conducted countless sustainability convoys between locations, moving ammunition, personnel and GS Materiel. In addition, they inloaded the Vanguard Field Hospital in support of 34 Field Hospital (25 Air Pallets, 3 vehicles and 3000Kgs of freight). Having established a fully operating site, Petroleum Troop conducted real life refueling support tasks, bulk fuel issues and receipts and jerrican refueling and decanting Operations. Supporting the movement of GS Materiel and ammunition, Supply Troop continued with issues and receipts, performing up to ten a day, compared to same number per week back in the UK. The ASP continued with storing, issuing and maintaining live and blank ammunition along with pyrotechnics.
The drawdown of the exercise took place in April with the start of the Redeployment Phase. Tasked with the movement of all GS Materiel and VOR vehicles back to the SPOD, GT Tp entered its busiest period yet; in total 87 ISOs were relocated from all three camps in under three weeks. Following this the entire vehicle fleet was moved down to the SPOD for loading onto the UK bound ship. Simultaneously, Petroleum Troop decommissioned their BFI and loaded their specialised kit into ISOs ready for redeployment back to the UK. They continued to provide a re-fueling capability for all dependencies at the SPOD, in the form of a Unit Support Tanker, as well as a guard force for the vehicle Fleet. Supply Troop continued with consignment tracking, labeling all GS Materiel moving back to the UK. Within the ASP, the ammunition detachment closed down all ammunition storage facilities, using demolition equipment to blow up any left over natures unable to be redeployed back to the UK.
The success of Ex SHAMAL STORM would not have transpired without the assistance of all the accompanying exercising units. Particular thanks goes to 5 Battalion REME for recovery, 26 Engineers for their edifice, 1 Duke of Lancashire Regiment for their joint training and finally, 17 Regiment RLC for their direction. The Squadron was thoroughly tested throughout the exercise, agreeing that it was an exceptional opportunity for soldier development, both at trade and basic soldiering skills.